Confession time: When it comes to this whole writing a novel lark, I have no flippin’ idea what I’m doing.
I have a completed first draft, which is currently being redrafted (send help and biscuits!) I have a reasonable idea of what I need to do in redrafting it, but beyond that nadda. Luckily, I’m doing a six-month online novel development course with the Australian Writer’s Centre, which will hopefully help whip my shitty first draft into some sort of non-embarrassing shape.
So far, the feedback I’ve been receiving from the course’s workshopping sessions has been valuable and largely positive, phew! My fellow classmates can understand what’s going on, the story is flowing and they’re laughing in all the right places. Laughing with me instead of at me is always generally a good sign.
As I wade through the shit that is the shitty first draft, I’ve been thinking a lot about the drafting process. Of course, I’ve also spent a fair chunk of time researching what other authors think about the process too, which is a great way to avoid doing any actual redrafting BTW. So is mooching around on Twitter all day, but that isn’t going to get the work done either. Sigh… While time spent googling other authors is helpful, there needs to be a limit to it. In my case, living vicariously through the online lives of Lindsey Kelk and Jojo Moyes is only going to get me so far. Bums on seats and fingers on keys is the only way I’m ever going to paddle through the poo pond and eventually reach the other side *headdesk*
And so I’ve come to this conclusion: The approach to first drafts is different for everyone. For me, it’s a little bit of planning and a little bit of pantsing, but always taking it one sentence at a time; one scene at a time. It’s pushing on despite the nagging self-doubt and annoying self-talk. Also, if you’re not working to a deadline then make one. Setting a date to finish will encourage you to show up and do the work, even if you think it’s complete shite. Which it probably is, but that’s okay because everyone’s is, which is when redrafting comes in to save the day. Although I’ve also concluded that penning a first draft is a helluva lot easier than redrafting, which is where I’m at right now. Forget the biscuits, send wine. Buckets of wine!
Other people who have also been thinking about first drafts lately is Natasha Lester. As a successful author and owner of killer hair, Natasha recently blogged about her approach to this and even posted a screenshot from one of her first drafts. Oh brave lady, oh how I applaud thee. If you’re a writer, make sure to check it out only don’t spend too much time on her website or you’ll never make it through the shit.